This quote, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me,” is from the story of Jacob, when he wrestled with an angel through the night, refusing to surrender until the angel blessed him. This deliberate stance is the number one reason that I am still alive. One out of five people with bipolar one disorder tragically killed themselves. I decided that if I have been fated with such a dark and dangerous disorder, my personal choice has to be to endure and to make it pay for itself. If I am going to be affected by an illness that also creates havoc in the lives around me then I am going to learn from it.
The idiom “between Scylla and Charybdis” has come to mean being forced to choose between two equally dangerous situations. In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite her counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow’s range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice versa. For the purposes of bipolar disorder interpretations, Scylla has an acidic, raging, violent fury about her, akin to the worst of mania. In contrast, Charybdis, was simply a large whirlpool. Downward Spiral, end stop. No recourse. In bipolar disorder our choice is not simply between avoiding one monster or the other. It is between becoming one monster or the other. Between the two, is it any wonder that Odysseus chose mania over depression?